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Virology. 2002 Apr 25;296(1):117-24.

Yellow fever virus 17D envelope and NS3 proteins are major targets of the antiviral T cell response in mice.

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Emory Vaccine Center, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


The yellow fever virus 17D vaccine strain is one of the most effective and safe vaccines available. The immune response after immunization is characterized by long-lasting high titers of neutralizing antibodies. Here, we have initiated a characterization of YFV-17D-specific cellular immune responses. This study makes three points. First, we have identified two CD8 T cell epitopes and one CD4 T cell epitope. An H-2Kb-restricted dominant epitope was mapped in the NS3 protein, whereas the viral envelope protein harbored an H-2Db-restricted subdominant epitope and the I-Ab-restricted CD4 T cell epitope. Second, illustrating the concept of immunodomination, we found that after abrogation of the dominant response in H-2Kb knockout mice, the frequencies of T cells recognizing the subdominant Db-restricted epitope increased dramatically. Finally, the H-2Db-restricted epitope lacks the canonical Asn anchor residue at position 5, indicating that epitopes may be missed by strict application of the H-2Db-binding motif. Identification of these T cell epitopes will facilitate studies on the cellular immunity against YFV-based expression or immunization vectors.

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